Miami-Dade County

Wanting “one voice” for Miami-Dade, mayor promotes spokesman and expands his power

Miami-Dade communications chief Michael Hernandez, center, with Mayor Carlos Gimenez, left, and Chief of Staff Alex Ferro, right, during a meeting with the Miami Herald Editorial Board on February 10, 2016.
Miami-Dade communications chief Michael Hernandez, center, with Mayor Carlos Gimenez, left, and Chief of Staff Alex Ferro, right, during a meeting with the Miami Herald Editorial Board on February 10, 2016. pportal@elnuevoherald.com

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Friday ordered all county press releases and public communications to run through his office in an effort to make the government speak with “one voice” under the direction of his newly elevated spokesman, Michael Hernández.

The restructuring of the county’s communications protocol accompanied a promotion for Hernández, who moved from the communications director under Gimenez’s chief of staff to a “senior advisor” reporting directly to the mayor. Hernández, 34, also will begin overseeing communications at Miami International Airport, PortMiami and the county’s Water and Sewer department — agencies whose messaging was generally left to the departments’ staffs.

“Clear and consistent communication is vital,” Gimenez wrote in the memo, which touted his “continued efforts to unify countywide communications functions to improve public awareness and communicate with one voice…”

Gimenez wrote that all “county communicators” will continue to serve under department heads “but must now route all communications-related efforts through Senior Advisor Hernandez.”

A former political consultant, Hernández became Gimenez’s spokesman in 2014 as the mayor geared up for the 2016 reelection campaign. Now one of the most visible faces in county government, Hernández has earned high marks for his on-camera presence and criticism that he functioned as an Gimenez campaign surrogate on the county payroll.

Hernandez’s new title comes with a 21 percent raise, with the spokesman saying his pay will rise from $145,000 a year to $175,000 a year.

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